About Lynn

lynn jaffeeLynn Jaffee is a licensed acupuncturist and the author of the book, Simple Steps: The Chinese Way to Better Health, a clear and concise explanation of Chinese medicine for the lay person. She is co-author of the book, The BodyWise Woman, a personal health manual for physically active women and girls. Read more about Lynn...

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Chinese Acupuncture for Dizziness

What do inner ear infections, head trauma, Meniere’s disease, anemia, high or low blood pressure, and having too many cocktails have in common?  All of these things have the potential to make you dizzy.

While a number of conditions may be the cause of dizziness, not all dizziness is the same.  The severity of symptoms can run the whole gamut from disabling to mildly annoying.  People who suffer from vestibular (inner ear) problems may describe their dizziness as the sensation of the whole room spinning, or vertigo, with severe balance problems.  In contrast, someone who has low blood pressure may feel temporarily light headed when they stand up. To make things worse, dizziness may be accompanied by nausea, vomiting, sweating, and even fainting.

In Chinese medicine, dizziness is usually classified as some kind of wind.  Wind is a tricky pathogen, in that it tends to move around (making you dizzy).  It usually affects the upper part of your body, much like the wind outdoors, and it comes and goes, just like strong gusts on a windy day.  In Chinese medicine, wind is frequently the diagnosis not only in cases of dizziness, but also with tremors, some headaches, numbness, high or low blood pressure, and even itchy skin conditions.

The root cause of wind is almost always a deficiency of some vital substance in your body, such as Qi, Blood, or Yin.  For example, anemia is considered a Blood deficiency in Chinese medicine and is a common cause of mild dizziness or light-headedness. Another example is a depletion of your body’s moistening and nourishing Yin, which can cause dizziness.  In this case, your body is like a farmer’s field that has dried out to the point where the smallest breeze will make the dust rise.

Whatever the root cause or depletion, Chinese medicine has a lot to offer to effectively treat dizziness.  The best known treatment is acupuncture, which involves the insertion of tiny needles into your body to stimulate healing.  Also effective for dizziness is scalp acupuncture, Like it sounds, scalp acupuncture entails needling acupuncture points on your scalp to affect brain function, and can be used for neurological conditions.  In many cases, Chinese herbal medicine—the use of a specific formula for a specific condition—can be effective, too. 

Some dietary and lifestyle changes that you may try to help your dizziness include:

-Nix the cocktails.  Alcohol is a neurotoxin, is dehydrating, and can aggravate your symptoms.

-Avoid hot, spicy foods, as the heat can actually make your dizziness worse.

-Ditto for caffeine.

-Drink this not that.  While you’re avoiding alcoholic drinks, be sure to drink enough water, especially in hot and dry climates or in dry indoor heating.

-Try mild physical activity to relieve your symptoms.

-When you’re dizzy, focus on a fixed point.  This gives your brain more visual information to calm the dizziness and help you keep your balance.

-Get up slowly.  This is helpful for those of you with low blood pressure, as well as those who suffer from inner ear problems.  By rising slowly, you give your body and brain time to catch up with your change of position

-Check out your medications.  Dizziness or light headedness can be a side effect of a wide variety of drugs.  Talk with your doctor or pharmacist to see if any of the meds you’re taking could be causing your dizziness.

-In all cases, see your doctor if your dizziness is accompanied by chest pain, rapid heart beat, numbness, or blurred vision.

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